A true community radio station is on the brink of becoming a reality after years of planning and work from several dedicated local volunteers.
WRUU Savannah Soundings, a low-power FM station, is hoping to begin broadcasting on 107.5 FM as soon as possible. According to their license from the FCC, though, broadcasting has to begin by March. They have been streaming programming on the web since March of last year, but need just a little more funding to push them onto the airwaves.
A fundraiser has been set up to help the station complete the financing needed to purchase equipment for broadcasting. The WRUU Tunes & Brews Party will feature an odd mashup of Savannah musicians at the event at Service Brewing Co., showcasing the spirit the community station wishes to imbue.
House music from Lotion in the Basket will play between sets from Savannah electronic group Sunglow, indie rockers Clouds & Satellites and alt-country bangers Anders Thomsen Band. Included in the concert ticket is a 36-ounce tasting from Service, a tour of the brewery as well as grilled foods.
More importantly, funding will help push the station to its final goal, as well as help create a financial buffer for ongoing programming.
"It's a community supported radio station," said Doug Johnson, chairman of the WRUU executive task force. "The vast bulk of financing comes from individual donations. We also accept underwriting from Savannah businesses once we go on the air. The financial goal for this party is to give us a littler buffer, so we don't go on the air and then immediately go off the air."
More than three years ago, members of Unitarian Universalist Church of Savannah were discussing what to do with the first floor of a townhouse they owned. The top floors were being rented, but there was a lot of unused space. Ideas like a coffee shop were floated, but the idea of a community radio station, designed and run by the community, was eventually accepted.
Through the years, they have set different goals to bring the project to life. First, they needed to build the studio, then purchase equipment and begin getting content to air. Web streaming was a pivotal goal that was met in March.
They have reached a pinnacle in the process now and with this fundraiser are hoping to surmount the final obstacles as soon as possible.
"It's a radio station in Savannah to give an outlet to things that are not on the radio elsewhere in Savannah," Johnson said. "That's both political things and social things. It's community radio, so it's not-for-profit radio. We are a legitimate nonprofit and noncommercial radio station."
"I think another hallmark of the station is that it is extremely accessible to anyone in Savannah who wants to have a voice," said Trent Kissinger, head of fundraising for the WRUU executive task force. "It doesn't cost anything to use our facilities. If you propose a show or show idea, we'll bring you into the station, give you the training you need and give you the ability to come at times that are convenient to you to do your recording."
There are several shows already airing on the station's website and future programming is being approved now. The station set a fundraising goal of $10,000 at the beginning of the fiscal year. They have about $7,500 of that now, but will need future support as well.
"It's obviously going to cost more than that to get everything going," Kissinger said. "That doesn't just pay for the equipment on the tower, but we have to consider running cost of the station."
While the station is a legal entity of Unitarian Universalist Church, it's not a Unitarian radio station. In accordance with their message as a church, they are open to everyone and the radio station operates independently.
"WRUU is a legal entity of the Unitarian church in the sense that everything has an owner," Johnson said. "It's not a Unitarian Station expressly. The church does not have direct control over the content of the station but it's the body that is ultimately in charge of the station."
IF YOU GO
What: WRUU Tunes & Brews Party
When: 7-10 p.m. Jan. 14
Where: Service Brewing Co., 574 Indian St.
Cost: $22; 21 and older